Leaving out how one feels about Richard Blumenthal possibly misreprenting his military record, I just can’t see how this is good journalism on the part of the Times:
The New York Times, in a statement sent my way, is now defending its decision to run a shorter version of an explosive video of Richard Blumenthal in 2008 falsely claiming service in Vietnam — even though a longer version shows he accurately represented his service during the same speech.
When The Times first broke the story Monday night, it included a clip of Blumenthal claiming he “served in Vietnam.” But today the Associated Press unearthed a longer video showing that he earlier described himself as “someone who served in the military during the Vietnam era in the Marine Corps.”
Greg Sargent has it right:
Even if you don’t believe the longer video is exculpatory in any way, as The Times says, there’s no conceivable reason for leaving out the fuller context and letting readers make the call for themselves. It seems obvious that when dealing with a story this explosive, you would want to err on the side of more context, rather than less.
I don’t like the way the Times is handling this. It reminds me a lot of their story about John McCain and that foxy lobbyist in 2008. Again, it’s too much of a hit piece focusing on topics that aren’t that closely related to any important governmental issues.
Update. And this anti-Blumental piece from noted white supremacist William Saletan is simply bizarre. It actually argues that since “Blumenthal denounced `exploitive, poorly managed or even fraudulent fundraisers’ who raise money in the name of veterans”, he should be judged more harshly for his misrepresentations. How does that even begin to make sense?
I agree, but I can’t figure out why they’d put this out on an election day when Blumenthal isn’t even in the running. I doubt the story was gaining too much traction on its own merits, but it has certainly become useful in pointing out the Times’ nasty tactics.
Shut the fuck up, that’s how.
I’ve lost a great deal of respect for the NYT in their handling of this issue, especially now that the criticism is turning back on them for the haphazardly constructed initial article. And look at this comment from their spokesperson, Diane McNulty, claiming that the longer video does nothing to change the story:
I mean, that is just fucking pathetic, any way you look at it. It doesn’t change whether he went to Vietnam? He needs to be candid with his constituents? Good thing he says explicitly in that video that he didn’t go to Vietnam.
I just want to watch the entire Village burn to the ground right now.
Yeah, the NYTimes basically committed some crappy journalism, and now they’re going to the mattresses, instead of just doing the obvious: admitting that they fucked up.
In other news, Americans are losing faith in their institutions.
Who knows? Blumenthal’s always been one of the AGs around the country to get onto any pro-consumer lawsuit. You can be assured he’s got his bunch of enemies lined up.
@Midnight Marauder: Thank you for posting the NYT’s response; Doug should add it to his story.
If Diane McNulty is not already an RNC operative, she should consider becoming one as she does not even bother with a pretense of objectivity. This is like the Paterson bombshell that wasn’t quite the bombshell they initially claimed, except in this case their smear was crafted from even flimsier stuff.
but they yanked all the teeth outta the McCain-fucking-young-bouncy-lobbyist story and they held it back until the gop primaries were over. Then they only released the mutilated article because the reporters started leaking their material to other outlets, otherwise the Times editors would have kept it buried, so as not to embarrass everyone’s favorite Maverick.
@mai naem: Wall Street wants that seat, and lord knows the NYT is all about doing Wall Street’s bidding.
I don’t see how it’s good journalism to have an article that says things like “his staffers thought he was sleeping with her” (that’s a shorter version of about three paragraphs of that story).
Bill Section 147
Blumenthal gets caught bending the story and at least admits he is responsible for what he said. Not a full, “Gawd I am such a Liar…are you happy now?” apology but at least he fessed up to bending the story.
NYT gets caught bending the story and admits that story bending isn’t important because well…I mean…Blumenthal did some bending and even if the NYT omitted a lot of stuff he did say, he did say something that wasn’t true in the ten seconds we presented and so he’s a liar.
Sadly the Righties that complain that this SOP for the NYT will suddenly use the liberal NYT to make their non-point.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if members of both parties could just get together for once and call out the crap we have for Corporate Media? Oh wait. When they actually do that nobody reports it.
The New York Times is a shitty newspaper.
kommrade reproductive vigor
He’s a Democrat, what was your question again?
The Bearded Blogger
@mai naem: Ding, ding, ding! The economic elite is attacking the candidate that threatens them… Blumenthal shoud turn the attack around, turn it into an asset in an anti-elite, anti-establishment climate.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
Odd that this story seems to be driving the news cycle. My default assumption is always that politicians are liars, so catching a candidate for office in a state three time zones away from me in a fib about his war record wouldn’t normally register with me. By contrast, a sitting Congressman just resigned because his entire life was a lie, and that story is a distant second. Odd that.
I don’t have a particularly strong opinion about Blumenthal (unlike our hero Chris Matthews, who went all Jonathan Edwards on Blumenthal again today) but surely the NYT has better things to do?
More damning, from Connecticut media personnel:
Fuck. No space lines allowed in blockquotes, apparenlty. And I’m not allowed to edit my own comment. Damn!
Told ya so (about the media)
The Bearded Blogger
@Bruce (formerly Steve S.): better things than brake the knees of an enemy of the economic elite?
The New York Times serves a clientele, their job is to do their bidding
I’m told you can put two underscores on each blank line and it’ll show up correctly in your blockquote. Since I’ve never tried it, I’m going to now:
EDIT: Sweet, it works.
The message board I usually frequent is blocked again at work so BJ is my main timewaster now. And I’ve been waiting to try that out!
The Times chose to insinuate about a sexual relationship, with no more than workplace suppositions to back them, while downplaying the damning and easily proven financial relationship.
If everyone plays their cards right here, Blumenthal will come out on top. He’ll come off looking like the target of a local media hit-job, his opponent will look craven for jumping on board, and I don’t see how being a conscientious objector is going to hurt him in CT.
There’s 6 months for this story to play out yet.
*Well I’ll be damned. Thank you.
The Bearded Blogger
@Martin: Exactly. Also, he has a chance to appear as being anti-establishment, having been attacked by the establishment newspaper
The best thing that could have happened for Blumenthal is him being able to paint this entire episode as a combination of being smeared by a political opponent so desperate to climb back up in the polls, she corroborated with an out-of-state newspaper for a malicious hit piece. And having the NYT come out and say “The video doesn’t change our story,” when, in fact, it most certainly changes their story, is just all-universe levels of tone-deaf stupidity.
I would be completely unsurprised if Blumenthal comes out of this ordeal with minimal damage, if he suffers any at all.
You did. I just think it’s odd. It reminds me of the Elliot Spitzer affair. He was also a really aggressive prosecutor who went after moneyed interests. I know, I know, he was also a hypocrite, and he did the deed, so he had to be run out of town to express our moral outrage, but I didn’t want him to go.
The Times, even now comes out with this:
Yet an apparently respected Conn. journalist had written this
Seems that they are insinuating that something is a widely accepted truth when it may not be.
I fear the Times is completely full of shit here.
The super-lefty-liberal New York Times sure sold out us liberals on this one, didn’t it?
I agree with DougJ that the story about McCain and the lobbyist was similarly crappy, though, and I felt that way at the time even though I can’t stand McCain.
Also, the piece where the NYT disclosed the SWIFT program for tracking terrorist financing, while in a different vein, also showed pretty crappy editorial judgment in my view, and I think the public editor basically ended up saying so.
And then there’s Judy Miller. The fucked-up thing is, even with all this, the NYT is STILL the best paper out there…
Ah… I see that LT had already linked to Colin McEnroe
@Midnight Marauder: I found that response bizarre as well. Particularly this section:
Doesn’t that sound like something an opposing campaign would say? Why is the spokesperson talking about what Blumenthal needs to do when the question was about the reporting of the NY Times?
@Steve: “the NYT is STILL the best paper out there…” If they continue doing this for much longer, they won’t be.
There is no need to fear this. It is most certainly the truth.
And DougJ, I think it would be a nice move to add the NYT spokesperson’s response to the charges the paper is now facing as an update to this post. It certainly helps provide a greater sense of perspective on an issue that is definitely not going away any time soon.
@jwb: Maybe not, but can you tell me who is next in line to claim the title? The Quibbler?
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
It comes as an enormous surprise to righties but the NYT is not particularly loved by lefties, so playing that card might indeed work for Blumenthal.
I wouldn’t go that far.
During MJ there is always an ad for “the weekender” the weekend subscription to the NYT. There is one guy who says “the best journalists in the world work for the NYT and there is no disputing that” I swear I about spit my tea all over the comforter every time I hear it.
Work’s been nuts today, so if you’ve already posted this, I apologize, but if not: Linda McMahon Campaign Unsuccessfully Scrubs Evidence of its Role in NYT’s Richard Blumenthal Story.
@Midnight Marauder: And on top of the ACORN story, which was bad enough, and then Clark Hoyt’s absolutely, stunningly moronic response to the issue.
Wanted to edit to add the best journalists in the world work for the BBC. Period.
Then you have Fox News, for whom this is their raison d’etre.
@Midnight Marauder: While I agree that the NYT committed serious malpractice by not using the longer video, I disagree with the idea that Blumenthal’s preface makes any difference. Saying “[I] served in the military during the Vietnam era”, then following it with “[I] served in Vietnam” leaves the impression that the first assertion was merely a humble understatement of the second assertion. That is, since the “in Vietnam” assertion is by far the stronger of the two, most listeners would take it as the definitive meaning of the two assertions.
I mean, if someone says, “I was in the U.S. during 9/11”, then a few minutes later says, “I was in Manhattan during 9/11”, do you really think it’s plausible to conclude that she meant only to express that she was in the country then?
After all Blumenthal joined the elitist group of Marine Corps and went to Parris Island for boot camp. Isn’t that just like a day on the beach. The NYTimes piece was a hit job and justice would be for the reporters to spend a week with that elitist group.
At the very least, can they clear up whether they misquoted that woman?
That’s bizarre all by itself.
Why would she pour her heart out to the NYTimes reporter on this big betrayal and then appear with the candidate following release of the story, to rebut the story?
Will they give her op ed space? I think she deserves a chance to explain what the hell is up with her. She comes off looking like a crazy person.
@AhabTRuler: Hoyt knows where his paycheck comes from and where he can tsk-tsk the paper and where it’s his job to take one for the paper.
@jwb: Is McClatchy a newspaper, though, or a publishing company? I don’t really understand what they are. I agree that they do great journalism.
I think everyone has to put the entire mess into this context. My husband served in the Marine Corps during the “Vietnam era” I think for about a couple of months when he joined up. He is therefore entitled to join Vietnam Veterans of America even though he never went to Vietnam and he was actively recruited by the organization (which he steadfastly refused to do “I was never there, why would I give people the impression that I was”). THAT is the reason that there is a splinter group known as “In Country Vietnam Veterans of America” Basically anyone who was in the military during the Vietnam era can call themselves a “Vietnam Vet” despite the fact they never left US shores. By that level of qualification I can call myself a “Falklands War Vet” and a “Gulf War Vet” despite the fact that I stayed in the UK during both wars.
Well, if that person came out, as of two months ago, and unequivocally stated the equivalent of “Although I did not serve in Vietnam,” then I think you might have a point. I believe Steve Benen described this madness best when he said:
And I struggle to see how you can say in one sentence that you “agree that the NYT committed serious malpractice” by not using the longer excerpt of the video, but then turn around and say that Blumenthal’s initial prefacing makes no difference. Then why are you okay with classifying the NYT’s actions as “serious malpractice” if it doesn’t change the implication one way or the other? That logic does not seem to coherently mesh together.
@jwb: I don’t disagree, but I think it is quite sad. I have mentioned before that he is social with members of my immediate family, although I cannot recall meeting him myself (although I certainly must have at least once). He came out of Knight-Ridder’s Washington Bureau, where he won his Pulitzer. Although it has since been bought by McClatchy, the reputation for good, solid reporting from the bureau has remained, so it’s a shame to see a good reporter go down.
ETA: McClatchy is a newspaper chain, and today is the result of the merger with KR.
@Steve: They own a bunch of newspapers, and as far as I can tell their site conglomerates the best of their work. I believe they are trying to reorganize as a branded national news organization with local outlets.
@AhabTRuler: IIRC, he’s due to step down in the next couple of months, so with luck he can go back to being a good reporter.
@Nick: Correct, I remember you predicted this several times, and wondering if would prove out.
@jwb: If Judy Miller and Jayson Blair didn’t take down the NYT, nothing journalistic will.
The Christian Science Monitor is a good paper. Though, they don’t publish an actual dead-tree daily edition anymore. Just the website and a weekly edition.
Good to know that the NYT will credulously catapult whatever propaganda the right hands them, and then unflinchingly stand by their
stenographystory no matter how many holes are poked in it.
Way to go librul media!
Huh, weird, when they were Knight Ridder, one of their flagship papers was the Akron Beacon Journal (or the BJ). Why aren’t they on the list?
@Midnight Marauder: On NYT’s malpractice, it’s simple: they hid something that some people think exculpates Blumenthal, or that at least mitigates his transgression. I think it doesn’t, but I can still respect someone who argues some degree of mitigation. It’s a matter of giving us all the evidence, versus tilting the evidence to favor a particular viewpoint.
This story stinks of the NYT’s “reporting” in the leadup to Iraq. Shame!
@Martin: There, I think you are wrong. Every time something like this happens and they don’t own up to it, it takes them down a notch.
From the McEnroe column:
“There was one “smoking gun” — the Norwalk clip.”
If that is true, if they guy mispoke one line in one speech after accurately stating the facts a few minutes earlier, this is a real mess up by the NY Times.
It’s the journalistic equivalent of putting a thumb on the scale.
I can respect that, even if I think your argument against Blumenthal is kind of weak.
@Tonal Crow: “It’s a matter of giving us all the evidence, versus tilting the evidence to favor a particular viewpoint.”
Especially when there was really no good reason not to give all the evidence. I actually expect that Hoyt will tsk-tsk them on this aspect of the reporting of the story.
So, when will the librul NYT do a story on the labor practices of the WWF/WWE and why so many of its former employees die young?
I’ll be waiting.
Speaking of the NYT/Blumenthal fiasco…
Does anyone else feel like Karl Rove’s finger prints are all over this one? Attacking someone’s military service was Turdblossom’s specialty.
@Cacti: No, I’m pretty sure it’s the same people who got Spitzer.
Until others are found, I don’t know how anyone can logically and fairly go anywhere else. With the reporters and marines standng behind him especially.
I’ve been told by many people, including my father who served in the early 60s, that the convention is to call yourself a “Vietnam-era vet” if you didn’t actually go. There’s no law against calling yourself a Vietnam vet if you like, of course, but I think most people who actually served during that period would consider it slimy.
Oh crie eye eye,
In country there was just a bit of difference between being in the shit and playing support. There is also a rather large disparity in numbers.
@Litlebritdifrnt: no they can’t, they are ERA vets, period.
Now, I want everyone to get over it and stop all this swearing.
@Chuck Butcher: And, as I am sure you know, like every other war there were far more support troops (including me) than grunts. The only difference is that “in country” there was the chance of the odd angry 122, mortar or mine. In the big one most people were no where near being “In Harms Way”.
Blumenthal’s allies should be making a point that his service in Vietnam was more that George W Bush, Dick Cheney, New Gingrich, and Rudolph Giuliani combined.
This is so stupid I have to suspend lurking to speak out about it.
Oh dear God, can’t we just drop this goddamn Republican swiftboating? It’s bad enough when we turn on our own, we don’t need to be carrying Linda fucking McMahon’s water for her.
Linda fucking pro wrestling wife McMahon… Jeebus. Sacrosanct though pro wrasslin no doubt is around these parts, do we really want to do this to the guy? What’s next – Joe Lieberman strips off his mask and turns out to actually be Jesse Helms?
I know most people would cite Judith Miller as the Times’ nadir, for the damage it caused, but I’d say the original Jeff Gerth Whitewater article was the beginning of the end for the paper. And this Blumenthal article is very similar to that one: dripping with innuendo, taking the flimsiest of evidence and presuming the absolute worst from it. Yet I knew many intelligent people who for years insisted there clearly had to be SOMETHING to Whitewater — the Times imprimatur was enough to plant that seed in their minds.
As for getting the Times to pull back on this — fuggedaboudit. As Gene Lyons wrote of Whitewater, “The Times would rather see a president impeached than print a retraction”.
And here come the Linda McMahon banner ads, awesome.
NYT is absolutely correct – as usual. There’s nothing exculpatory here. “I served in the Marine Corps during Viet Nam” suggests he was in Viet Nam (most jarheads were) and he later in the same speech explicitly says he was in Viet Nam. Blumenthal’s intent to deceive is clear. If you don’t understand how making a false claim of serving in Viet Nam is exploitive of real war veterans you sniff some ammonia or something – you’re asleep or brain dead.
And a followup Times article relies on the testimony of “friend” Christopher Shays, hardly a disinterested observer.